March 30, 2015

Book Review ~ Medicine for the Dead by Arianne "Tex" Thompson

Medicine for the Dead is book two in Tex's Children of the Drought series. You can catch up with my review of One Night in Sixes, or sit back and enjoy this review right here. I can't give the disclaimer that I got a free copy, because I paid for this sucker freely and gratefully, but I must disclose that I've literally taken lessons from Tex on how to craft a sentence. I bow to her linguistic prowess, and on that note, let's begin.

Poor Elim, you can see him there all sunburned and sad.
Medicine for the Dead is, in short, a series of separate journeys where the excrement hits the fan for everyone all in the last part of the book. It continues where Sixes left off to tell us what happens to Elim, Weisei, and Vuchak, as well as several other of the inhabitants of Sixes. Although, thankfully, none of this happens in Sixes so we're not burdened by all the tertiary characters.

To be honest, Sixes had me lost at parts because things were not clear (to me). While Tex's beautiful wordsmithing is mesmerizing, it takes effort to unpack the true meaning sometimes. Heck, she speaks in metaphor in real life, so I shouldn't expect differently in text. BUT, listen to the but guys, Medicine doesn't suffer from that little bit of confusion. In fact, it cleared up all the confusion I had at the end of Sixes. Part of me wishes I had understood all that was going down with Sil and the natives back then, but the revelations now made me go "whoah." Medicine streamlines all the great stuff about Sixes into a few different character POVs and packs a mean punch. I had a great deal of feels toward the end, and the revelations in the last few pages made me want book three like yesterday.

I seriously read this 450 page book in two days, and I have a three-year-old. Let that sink in. Medicine moves fast, the pacing is spot on, and there's a lot of action/fear/danger/tension keeping the pages turning. Each separate journey has stuff going for it, and when they converge together, you read faster and faster. I still want an audio revision with Nathan Fillion doing Mal Reynolds and reading in his westerny awesomeness.

Now, the best thing about this book. Fishmen. Yes, the fishmen. Tex creates this interesting and unique race and I just want to read more scenes with them in it. They're alien enough to be different, but similar enough to empathize with. They change skin color like squids, talk with their hands, speak a quasi-French language, and eat meals in massive feeding frenzy competitions. Who wouldn't like that?

I'm beginning to ramble because I loved the book so much. So, long story short. If you're having a little difficulty with Sixes, stick through it. The payoff is worth it. I asked for more magic and weird, and I got a LOT more magic and an unparalleled amount of weird. I'd say to be careful what you ask for, except that I'm happy with what I got.

Stop reading this, go read the book.

**Edited to add**
Little bit more rambling. I forgot to mention one of the things that really struck me about the book. Tex handles the intricacies of a language barrier with finesse and tremendous balance. She also delves into themes surrounding assumptions of a people as a whole versus the mystery of an individual. How can these strangers break barriers of racism and language to attempt to understand one another? It has the weight of the cross-species barriers presented in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead series. Okay, ramble over now for reals.

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